Roar of the Rocket s and the fabulous Hurst Olds 442

Q: Greg, I enjoyed your recent Plymouth “Gone but never forgotten” feature that appeared in our newspaper and its website. I’m wondering if you could do a similar story on the Oldsmobile, another top model that is no longer available. Did you ever own one? Why did General Motors drop the Oldsmobile? How about its impact in the racing world? How about the Hurst Olds 442? Sorry for all the questions in one letter. Thanks for considering my letter.

– George L., St. Augustine, Florida

A: George, thanks for your kind words and let’s get to your questions. Ransom Olds founded the Olds Motor Vehicle Company in 1897 and during its heralded 107-year history, 35.2 million cars were built.

General Motors dropped the Oldsmobile mainly because of declining sales back in 2004. Additionally, another reason was the Olds, Pontiac and Chevy were all sharing mechanical platforms with different exterior motifs. So if you bought an Olds Alero, it was identical to the Pontiac Grand Am and Chevy Malibu. The same thing happened with Ford when it dropped its Mercury line and also at Chrysler, when the Plymouth was deleted from its core model offerings. Olds was the first model GM dropped, with Pontiac soon to follow in 2010.